31 May, 2013

"Thank you for smoking", elsewhere

Only five days missed to Angers city to twin the "Day of the awareness to cleanliness"" planned by that authority on May 25th and the world "No tobacco day" which took place on May 31st. In Angers, it would have been appropriate to add those two events because, one of the main reasons of the dirtiness of the town, in spite of the resources and the care dedicated to the maintenance of the public areas, is... the tobacco.

How many cigarettes buts are daily thrown away by tactless smokers? Streets, pavements, terraces of cafes, even fitted with giant ashtrays, beds of flowers of public gardens, entrances of offices, surroundings of schools, universities, all publics surfaces of the town are polluted and made dirty. And, when the weather is rainy, as it was during the last three months, all that filth goes to the gutters then the sewers before the sewage water facilities. Those purify the water that the households have to pay...

The problem does't seem to be taken in account by town hall whose website mentions graffitis, animals excrements, wastes, cumbersome items but not cigarette butts (only the posters used during the campaign for town cleanliness did) as sources of disorders. But cleanliness is everybody's business, even smokers.

30 May, 2013

The Technicolor area at a turning point next week

The situation of the former Technicolor site looks, slowly, in progress, at least from the legal standpoint. Since October 2012, the area, where thousands of Angevins worked in one of the symbolic company of the city, was a no man's land. But, behind the scene, Angers Loire Métropole and Angers city kept things moving. The Nanterre bankruptcy court will publish next week its judgment regarding the purchase of the place by those two authorities. The price is € 6.5 millions, 50% less than the original validation.

Regarding the use of the place by industry, it has been said by the local medias that three regional companies were candidates : the subcontracting groups Minerva (Tours), Cofidur (Laval), and another one, presently unknown. The three companies would not plan to manufacture important series but rather medium volumes for professionnals. About 80 jobs would be sufficient to begin.

In Maine et Loire, like in the Pays de la Loire and France, the unemployment continued to rise. More than 63 000 persons were looking for a  job in April. Prodigious industrialization in the department would be necessary to curb the trend. 

29 May, 2013

The Angers street code goes with layouts for vulnerable users

A terrible accident occured on May 29th at the angle of Roi-René boulevard and Toussaint street, which cost a young boy's life, adresses the issue of the safety of the use of bikes in Angers town. The drama took place when a lorry coming from Roi-René boulevard turned right towards Toussaint street. A the same time, the young boy, 11 years old, who followed his father, both on their bikes, did an identic manoeuvre. The lorry driver would not have seen the cyclist.

That tragedy recalls another one occured several years ago at the angle of the Carnot boulevard and the Marie Talet avenue. A medecine student, got knocked over by a heavy goods vehicle driving down the boulevard when that one turned right towards the avenue. The young woman lost her life. These two facts testify the usefulness of the street code implemented by town hall (which mentions cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians, but not trucks) within the city. 

But they illustrate also the necessity to plan some layouts regarding the cyclists, above all if those are young people and to ensure the rules are known by users of the streets network who are not Angers inhabitants. If distinct cyclable lanes, totally separated from automobile roads, become more numerous on the main ways of the city (it is the case on Roi-René boulevard and a sign road "Give way" had been set up at this place), there are still dangerous points and the junctions are one of those.  

28 May, 2013

New businesses : a week against their weakness

One of the possible ways for Angers to recover from a continuous increase of unemployment since several years is to create companies. The conclusion seems obvious but the time when Angers got the arrival of important companies with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of jobs belongs to the past. So the House for the creation and the transmission of companies plans meetings dedicated to people who have a project in mind. The next edition will take place in the Saint-Aubin district until the end of the month.

Even if that district is not (yet) the most populated of the city, inhabitants and college students will get access to debates, testimonies of young managers about the ways to realize a project, the difficulties and the rewards they met, once their company was running. The initiators of that "Week of company creation" are working all over Angers : Monplaisir and La Roseraie hosted the event and after Les Hauts de Saint-Aubin, Belle-Beille will come. 

  Who are the new angevins entrepreneurs? According to the House for the creation and the transmission of companies, most of them are 37 years old, most are men and were job seekers at the time they lauched their businesse and set up their own job. For the 3/4 of the candidates, the scheme was only an idea when they take part to the meetings of that authority. Around 1 300 businesses were set up in Angers in 2011.

27 May, 2013

The city lowers the drawbridge of the castle for inhabitants

After an agreement between the Angers city and the Centre des monuments nationaux, the mayor made public last week, the access to the castle for Angers inhabitants having the carte Atout will be free from next month. That good idea has a double interest. First, it ends an anomaly. Even if the castle is property of the French state, and not of the city, the Angers inhabitants, probably the most important prescribers of visits, were in difficult position to go with friends in the monument they are proud of. The full price for one person is € 8,50! So the measure should stimulate the number of local visitors and increase the receipts of the castle.

But the change has another interest. It gets the castle closer to the Angevins. That momument will be highlighted with the complete redevelopment of the Maine left bank in the years to come. The street leading to the drawbridge and the Bout du monde walkway will be totally refurbished. A lift will even join that place to the bottom of the escarpment. 

Of course, given the economic circumstances, Angers city is not looking for new expenses linked to the maintenance of the monument. With the new banks of Maine scheme, the city should insist on the interest to restore the Great Hall overlooking the Maine and partially covered by ugly iron roofs since more than twenty years while the city collected money to help to rebuild the royal home completely destroyed by a fire in 2009. The € 50 000 Angers city will give to the state to offset the loss of charged visitors could allow a closer association with the state regarding the preservation and above all the life of its most symbolic place.

26 May, 2013

All Angers moves : from the trail to the trial

The final trial called "The Saint-Maurice challenge" which ends the yearly event "All Angers moves" is a sport competition but has something more than a simple, but violent, physical  effort. The Saint-Maurice uphill slope consists in a succession of levels of a dozen meters each, every level being separated from the others by two or three steps linking the Jean Turc square, at Maine river level, and the Saint-Maurice cathedral, about a fifty meters higher. 

The place has something symbolic. The competitors must climb the stairs in the shortest time. The bests do it in less than 30 seconds but come back from the top to the bottom silently and step by step. The crowd, gathered on both sides of the slope, encourages the competitors in their ordeal from the ground to the highest Angers monument. If the city, as many other French towns, has recorded a drecrease in religious attendance, the cathedral still rallies those who continue to observe the Sunday services.

The Saint-Maurice challenge closed that annual event dedicated to a meeting between Angers inhabitants and city sports clubs around trails in and around the town. After a never-ending gloomy weather, "All Angers moves", under the sun and a mild temperature, gave hope to people, even if, after the "Saint-Maurice challenge", it is not sure many of them went in the cathedral to light a church candle. They should have do so. Saint-Maurice, from his height, will judge...

25 May, 2013

"Home sweets home"!

With an "English speaking library", many ads on the front sides of stores or panels, all written in English, Angers will have from now a more English distinct taste, already present in the city since a few year with a tea room. An English sweets store has recently opened on Saint-Eienne street, close to Imbach square. 

"Q and K confiserie" (instead of "sweets", would it have been incomprehensible in English?) is the name of the store. The idea came to a French-English family and, on May 25th, attracted a lot of customers even if a tasting animation in front of the store would have been appropriate.

But, come in and have a look on the traditionnal English know how so unfairly criticized on the French side of the Channel. Churchill confectionnary (without an ounce of cigar), liquorist sticks, midget jems, golf balls (edible), fruit jellies... all the sweets English kids sucked before going to bed are available on wooden shelves as they were in country style groceries of East Sussex.

The employees are relatives of the owner but, that day (?) didn't speak English. They should have do so because the disorientation would have been complete. In spite ot that, apparently, the Angevins melt for the pink and yellow rhubard and English cream sweets. Gosh!

24 May, 2013

2014 Angers municipal polls : tempers are flaring on both sides

Christophe Béchu
For the municipal polls of 2014, things are getting more complex for the two main candidates, Frédéric Béatse, current mayor of Angers and Christophe Béchu, president of the Maine-et-Loire general council, his challenger. On the left side, Mr Béatse has been weakened by the going of his deputy-mayor, Jean-Luc Rotureau, after this one failed to promote primaries for the choice of the left candidate to the Angers mayor office. On the right, a theorical ally of Christophe Béchu, Laurent Gérault, opposition councillor at Angers city council, has been choosen by his party to stand as candidate for the Angers polls next year. 

Laurent Gérault
Jean-Luc Rotureau
It is not sure Mr Gérault will join Mr Béchu on the same list. There is no certainty Mr Rotureau will come back in Mr Béatse side. Would the third option be an alliance between the centre and part of the left, i.e. : Mr Gérault and Mr Rotureau or between the first and Mr Béatse? It is sure that the conquest of the Angers city hall would become more difficult for Mr Béchu without partner. But the man succeeded to get ally on the left for the last municipal polls.

Frédéric Béatse
Tempers are flaring both on left and right. Recently the Graines d'Angers, a movement gathering young supporters launched an appeal in favor of Christophe Béchu's candidacy. That triggered a sarcastic reply of the Angers young socialists. If the final result is presently unpredictable, something looks likely. The next elections will be tough even if they will not enlighten the real economic stakes for Angers inhabitants.

"La Tribune d'Angers" stops its publication

Few by few, its red banner headline had became familiar to many Angevins who read local news paper. Its size and pagination attracted the eyes of a lot of people at the entrance of stores, cinemas or restaurants. Few by few it had became part of the visual landscape of the city. Its title had itself a touch of protest : the word "Tribune" is often associated to somebody who claims and who is not afraid of the consequences.

The facts and trends reported by "La Tribune d'Angers" were a faithfull reflect of the local life with a mix of news borrowing partly to the coverage of a daily newspaper and partly to a weekly one. The Angers down town hustle and bustle as well as the green environment of the town surroundings were under the monitoring of the editors who, beyond doubt, had dedicated huge efforts to keep the Tribune alive and well.

But after three years, the economic situation became probably to difficult to be overcame only by good will. The cessation of "La Tribune d'Angers" is not only a bad symbol of the current period but also a visible end of a little candle, because without it, life is a little bit sad. Angerscity didn't need that.

23 May, 2013

The Maine new banks project in the traffic jams

Apparently, the use of cars has not yet left the mind of Angers inhabitants who want to go to the city down town. After the display of the main principles of "New banks", the project dedicated to a redevelopment of the city around its river, the people gathered in the Medecine University on May 23rd were mainly worried by the limitations brought, few by few, to the car traffic, even if the scheme gets the interest and probably the agreement of the audience.

If the redevelopment of the Maine banks will be set up step by step, it will be necessary, soon or later, to bury the current underpass approach and to replace it by a simple double way at the bottom of the Angers castle. But will that way be sufficient to deal with 25 000 vehicles per day? Will the buses and the (2nd line) of the tramway be suited to the demand?  To all these questions, the architects, and the mayor, answered the decrease of the car traffic will also depend on a change of behaviour from Angers inhabitants. But it's clear the efforts to discourage people to use their car will continue.

One of the first change will be visible in the Saint-Serge industrial zone which should become a new district of the city where students should live, study and ... have fun. Another part of the city, the surroundings of the castle will be transformed in order to give him a more important part in the liveliness and attractiveness of the city. After an agreement between the city and the ministry, the inhabitants should get the access to the momument for free. That will be really a revolution.

22 May, 2013

Angers students : english anguish

Doubt and apprehension look to prevail in the under-standing Angers students may have regarding a draft bill which will introduce classes dispensed in english in their university. It is not clear when the draft bill will be implemented given the members of parliament have started to debate about that topic on May 22th. According to four Angers students in economics, a problem may surge because of the insufficient level in english of most of the students of Angers university.

"We didn't have the necessary knowledge in english when we in the secondary level", complains Sophie, "So we are afraid of that disadvantage". The three other students met in the Saint-Serge campus share that opinion and deplore "the boring lessons we got in college or lycee. In fact english should be taught more intensely and above all, well ahead before higher education". 

In fact, notices Yves, "The interest for the French university to grab foreign students has may be eclipsed another aspect : the way foreign languages are taught in France compared to other countries where students have a better level. Some of us could not learn the classes and that could trigger a demotivation". But the learning in english in the years to come is not (yet) a top of mind concern for the Angers students apparently more worried by their next final exams.

20 May, 2013

Artaq 2013 with the Angers "paperazzis"

After the yarn bombing, which was the topic of the Artaq 2012 edition, the festival of the current year will have as main pattern the origami, that Japanese art of paper folding. As in was the case for the previous edition, the involvment of Angers inhabitants has been looked for since January by the artist entrusted to coordinate people's creations, Mademoiselle Maurice.

  This one has encouraged many Angers inhabitants in schools, leisure centres, retirement homes, associations, from all districts to use paper as a medium for artistic creations. That participation was launched in January for folding workshops and will take end on the last day of May. "All together, we shall be able to set up a very colourful universe and to open the event to a wide range of people", points out the city website.

According the Facebook page of the Artaq 2013, more than 23 000 foldings habe been recorded. Birds, flowers, planes, butterflies, mills wil invade Angers streets from May 31 to June 2. Later, exhibitions of those works will be set up all over Angers city. May numerous articles of medias cover the papers! [Credit Pictures : Angers city]

19 May, 2013

"All Angers is moving" 2013 : the Maine characteristic

The 2013 edition of the event "All Angers is moving", planned by the city town hall on May 26th, will associate more closely the Maine river to the different animations. Originally organized around a few number of urban trails, the operation has increased the quantity and the diversity of the itineraries in and around Angers. For the
next edition, no less than six races will be offered to the participants ranging from 6 to 34 km. The registrations for the shorter and the longest runs would already be complete, what suggests the event has became quite popular.

The animation is clearly, and officialy, an attempt for the city council to convince Angers inhabitants about the interest of the Maine banks reconquest. For that purpose, part of the event will take place in 2013 on the Maine river itself. If the speedway along the riverbanks will be closed, what could allow the population to listen to the babbling of the water usually drown out by the noise of cars, the Maine will host introductions to rowing for beginners and people will cross the river on a barge. 

One of the unknown factors of the success, or the failure, of the next "All Angers is moving" will be... the weather. Better weather conditions are expected from May 23rd. Otherwise, one of the trials of the day, the ascent of the Saint-Maurice cathedral steps could become slippery. English people are used to make sport under such weather. Rain is good for complexion.

18 May, 2013

The Saint-Serge campus will be one of the Angers place most transformed by the Maine new banks project

The future students of Angers university working on the Saint-Serge campus will be among the most favoured community of the city after the redevelopment of the Maine banks. Because the law and economic sciences compus is located along the Félix Faure speedway, the students cannot take benefit of the left side of the Maine where it is impossible to rest or to stay just for
a break given the deafeing noise of the car traffic.

That could change once implemented the scheme planned for the Maine banks, the city will introduce on May 23 at the Medecine university. The meeting will allow Angers inhabitants to know what are the main lines of the project and the schedule of its achievement. But the students will have to be patient because the first transformations of the urban landscape around Saint-Serge may not intervene before 2020... Most of them will have finished their cursus at that time!

Around the Saint-Serge campus a new park called "Conf-luences" will take place. All the current activities, the Marché d'intérêt national, the railway network, the car dealer stores will be removed or tranformed. Offices and housing will be built. At this time, the city council can't predict if the historical Angers down town will be deserted by students in serach of a new district for their eve
nings festivities.

17 May, 2013

Cancer : the Angers patients succeeded to wait

Credit Pictures : Ico
With the laying, on May 17th near the Angers hospital, of the first stone of the new West Cancerology Institute, an authority gathering the Angers Paul Papin and the Nantes René Gauducheau Institutes, the two cities have displayed a good example of what a clever cooperation may bring to patients waiting for treatment against that "plague". The works of a new building will last two years and cost about € 73 millions. but the Ico will, in Angers as well in Nantes, provide the most efficient cure and treatment channels at French and even European scale.

So the laying gathered a lot of personalities from policy and sciences as  Roselyne Bachelot, former Health ministry and member of parliament (from Angers constituency) when the project was decided (in 2006) and Jean-Loup Chrétien, the first French astronaut who is involved in the fight against that disease. One of the most important advantage of the project is its association with the Angers University Hospital Centre what will maximize the use of common resources like surgical units. 

The new Ico will also "inject" money in the regional and local economy which is not, currently, in good shape. It is not everyday that all the territorial authorities, what be their political orientations, the regional council, the Maine-et-Loire general council, Angers Loire Métropole and Angers city are involved in a common project "very important for the territory", pointed out Christophe Béchu, the general council president. In policy, are "new banks" in sight along the Maine?

16 May, 2013

"The Waders" : hail shower of March in May

Is a climatic change on way? For sure, but, given the temperatures, it is not sure earth is experiencing a warming. The weather of the even ing on May (!) 16th over Angers was rather a drop of temperatures. In fact, March, with its famous hail showers lasted till mid May in 2013. Along the Maine, on Reculée walk a heavy rain soaked all the pedestrians attempting to take benefit of a day almost without rain.

In a few minutes, the hail shower became a true hail which covered with a thin white layer the streets along the Maine, speeding down car traffic and impeding walkers to go on. The Maine river looked pierced by millions of dards giving to its surface an unusual aspect. A parked boat on the pavement was the most propicious shelter for people who didn't dare to walk under the rain.

On the other side of the river, some emergency vehicles started their ballet may be called because of flooding in some houses. They were splashing water like vessels cruising in high sea. Then, the calmness came back leaving room to the noise of the babling water now falling in the Maine. It was too late for a walk and perfect for a "nice cup of tea".

15 May, 2013

Angers rivalries on the placards

The Angers store owners may get in the months to come an additionnal and important support with the opening, planned in 2015, of a new commercial gallery along the Foch boulevard at the ground floor of the future headquarter of the Conseil général. The owner of these stores will be this authority even if it will not, directly, run the stores. But the renting of those surfaces will depend on their turnover, so on the number of their customers. 

During the last two years, the Angers store owners said they were harassed by the works on the first tramway line, then, plagued by the increase of car park fares, then victims of the prohibition to open on Sundays before End of Year holidays. So, the new stores along Foch boulevard may suffer such difficulties. Banners like "closure" or "to rent" will not give a favourable feeling to the Angers pedestrians or to the tourists.

Credit Pictures : Conseil général de Maine-et-Loire
It is not said if Christophe Béchu, the president of the Conseil général, will apply for membership of the store owners' association very buoyant during the last months. Some Angers stores front sides, located near the future Conseil général building, are now used by their owners to protest against the Angers city council policy. That could be used as placards by Mr Béchu...

13 May, 2013

The Conseil général next store owner in Angers down town

The Conseil général de Maine-et-Loire wants to get a facelift. The old surrounding wall along Foch boulevard should leave room, within two years, to a new building which will host the departmental authority. After a tender which interested more than 180 architects, five candidates have been selected to compete and to submit a detailed project. Those will be displayed until May 26th in the Saint-Martin collegiate church but under anonymity and an attention of equality. The models of the schemes have all the same size. At the end of June, a jury will select one of them.

Credit Picture : Conseil général de Maine-et-Loire
According to the Conseil général president, Christophe Béchu, "this is the appropriate location for a true architectural project". Located at the corner of Saint-Aubin street, one of the most visited way of Angers and the Foch boulevard, now enlived with the tramway, the place can really be a front side for the deparmental assembly. The schemes consist all in a high and large building where the authority want to gather several services currently scattered over the city. At street level, the passers-by will find stores and gain access to the gardens.

According to Mr Béchu, the project is balanced because financed by the sale of several properties the Conseil général owns in the surroundings for its different services. Its overall cost should total between € 15 and 20 millions, what is a quite important difference. It is not sure that Angers and Anjou inhabitants will taht time appraise the quality of the scheme to the control of its cost. But it could by more likely that the challengers of Mr Bechu in the next municipal polls will pay attention to the bill. And Mr Béchu, as a new store owner, could be helpful to the retailers of Angers down town.

12 May, 2013

The Angers university winner of a national robotics competition

A second acknowledegment has been received by the Angers university in less than a month. After an official ranking of the Angers university in the second place for the number of students getting their licence in three years, a new award came on May 11th in La-Ferté-Bernard (Sarthe) where the final of the robotics France cup took place. And, for its first participation in such a competition, the Angers university was the winner!

While the topic of the competition was "Happy birthday", all the participants were due to create a machine able to blow out candles, to throw cherries on a cake, to inflate a balloon and to pile up cups. And all that in less than 30 seconds!
The Angevins got the victory in final against the Ville d'Avray university while the Ecole supérieure de l'aéronautique et de l'espace (Toulouse) was third and l'Ecole supérieure d'électronique de l'Ouest, fourth. 

More than 180 teams of engineers schools were involved in the competition which demonstrates the ability of the teams to use their knowledges and their will to win together. On the following day, the Angers university met the winners of similar competitions coming from 18 countries.

 After the image of Angers university was badly damaged last year because of financial problems, it finally overcame, that one collected since those two good news. It has now to use those awards in order to get better allocations from the state because, obviously, it does good use of its insufficient resources and deserve larger means.

11 May, 2013

The 25th anniversary of the twinning with Angers looks rather unnoticed on Wigan (web) side

Angers will celebrate that week Europe, and through it, its twinning with Wigan implemented in 1988. On Angers side, the city council has planned numerous events celebrating Europe during the days to come. Because of the twenty fifth anniversary of the twinning, that celebration will have a "strong british accent", says the Angers city website. But what is planned on the other side of the Channel?

The traditional distrust regarding Europe in UK explains may be why the Wigan city council website does not dedicate a specific coverage to the European issue on its home page, rather interested in the next football derby between the Wigan Atheltic and the Manchester City (Wigan is in the suroundings of Manchester). But that does not mean the twin city of Angers is not involved in the awakening of its inhabitants' interest for what's going on on the other side of the Channel. But that interest is mixed for "French culture" as well as "Town twinning", in which, Angers is "the French connection".

Credit Picture : Wikipedia
In the same page dedicated to the Wigan twinning policy, a "Leigh French Circle" and a "Children's French Club" have been set up to help the city's people to improve their ability in French while at the bottom of the page, an "Angers Twinning Association" may awake inhabitants' interest for the Angers way of life. It seems that in Wigan point of view, twinning is rather an opportunity to improve personal of professional skills than a celebration of Europe dimension, UK is not (yet?) entirely part.
That is visible on the Wigan website home page where no speaking English visitors may find a link leading them to a linguistic assistance, and French is only one among others. But on the Angers website, no page is dedicated to English speaking people. The "british accent" of Angers website remains to be confirmed...

10 May, 2013

Re-election : will Frédéric Béatse miss the "Point"?

According to an analysis published by Le Point, the weekly magazine, there is, for Angers, a medium chance to swing from left to right after the next municipal polls planned in less than a year. The French weekly recalls that in 2008 the former Angers mayor, Jean-Claude Antonini, had only won with a narrow margin against his challenger, Christophe Béchu. Will the current mayor, Frédéric Béatse, who took office after Mr Antonini's resignation for health reasons in 2012, will go beyond the 50.61% the previous mayor got six years ago? According to Le Point, the game is far from being over for Mr Béchu, president of the Conseil général de Maine-et-Loire and senator of that department.

The current opposition wants to seize an opportunity after more than 35 years of socialist city council. At the beginning of 2013, that one published, under the title "Angers danger", a list of growing difficulties in population, employment, economy and standard of living that the majority "is inclined to forget or to misrepresent". One of the fiercest critic of the minority, pointed out by Le Point, is the tramway : "With a multiplication times two between the announcement (€ 173 millions) and the delivery (€ 343 millions), i.e. € 28 millions /km, the Angers tramway is one of the most expensive of France. Such a misdemeanour casts doubt upon the ability to implement a second line" (Even if the opposition launched a curious idea about of a half tramway line!).

According to Le Point, "the balance of city hall is not radiant" and the probality for Mr Beatse to be the next mayor could have been weakened after the open conflict with his deputy-mayor, Jean-Luc Rotureau, who failed to make primaries necessary. That incident could leave marks inside the majority voters in the months to come. And the opposition wants to make good use of that.